The Midnight Festival – Chapter 3

Sara and Hue fell for what felt like a long time before collapsing in a heap at the bottom of a black ravine. When Hue came to, he had trouble seeing his hand in front of his face.

“Sara?” he said, groping the ground next to him. “Where are you!”

“Here,” Sara said tearfully.

Hue picked himself up and rushed to his sister, who had fallen a few feet away.

“Are you alright?” Hue asked.

“No,” Sara said.

“Where does it hurt?”

She pointed. It took a second for Hue’s eyes to adjust to the darkness but when they did, he saw a jagged chunk of the egg slightly larger than her fist had broken off in the fall.

“Oh, Sara,” Hue said. “It’s alright.”

“No, it’s not,” Sara said. “I need to keep the egg safe until Botan can come back for it and I’ve broken it!”

“She’ll understand,” Hue said. “It’s not your fault.”

“Overhear!” Soldier’s voices. Heavy footsteps echoed. “It’s Opeth.”

“Come on,” Hue whispered, picking his sister up by the arm. “Move.”

Bones crunched underfoot as Sara and Hue ran. Lightning struck in the distance.

“Who are those men?” Sara said, struggling to hold on to the egg and keep up with Hue’s pace.

“Don’t know,” he said between breaths. “But they were at the Midnight Festival.”

Sara tried to remember to earlier that evening, but all she could think of were streamers and colors and winning the egg. Lightning flashed and with it, a memory of the stranger who’d awarded it to her. His smile, seared into her mind like a hot poker, making her want to scream. The siblings didn’t notice the piles of bones growing thicker, the ghostly energy that emanated from them; nor did they notice the trapping pit until they were already falling.

Sara and Hue fell upon another pile of bones. Catacombs made from skulls stretched everywhere. Hue held Sara. “Don’t be scared,” he said.

Just then, the egg started to glow.

The skulls reacted in kind as energy poured from the crack in the egg and filled the catacomb. Bones underneath shifted like quicksand, free-floated, and reformed.

Zugai, made from broken things, laughed.

Energy emanated from Zugai’s rib cage as bones fit themselves into new spots to form a body. It clicked its jaw, unable to form words, roared and lunged.

“Sara!” Hue sent his sister tumbling and jumped in front of the ghostly dragon. Sara tried with every fiber of her being to hold on to the egg, to keep it close. But it slipped and fell, cracking further.

“Leave my sister alone!” Hue screamed, arms in front of his chest like an X, ready to face the monster ahead.

Sara closed her eyes and pictured the night blue egg in her mind’s eye. She felt its heartbeat again and opened her eyes wide.

Cracks splintered along the eggshell like a winding spiderweb. Blue light seeped from the cracks, filling the catacomb. The pieces of the shell melted away and, in their place, hovered a new dragon.

Call me Xon.

Faster than Sara could see, Xon flittered between Zugai and Hue. Emblems all over Xon’s body lit up as it pushed back against the dragon of bones. A wave of energy left Xon’s body and washed over Zugai. It paused. Sara thought, for a moment, it looked scared.

All at once, the bones collapsed.

Xon turned to face Hue, who still had his arms crossed in an X, and Sara. Come, he said telepathically. It is not safe here. 

“Did you hear that?” came a soldier’s voice. “They’re down here!”

Run!

To be continued in Chapter 4…